'Propulsive . . . Deeply reported and novelistic. I flew through it' Ed Caesar
'Jaw dropping even for North Korea . . . A terrific piece of up-close reportage that reads like a spy thriller but is all too real' Anna Fifield
HOW DID A COLLEGE KID BECOME A GLOBAL FUGITIVE?
In the early 2000s, Adrian Hong was a soft-spoken Yale undergraduate looking for his place in the world. After reading a harrowing account of life inside North Korea, he realised he had found a cause to which he could devote his life.
Hong journeyed to China, outwitting Chinese security services as he helped ferry asylum-seeking North Korean escapees to safety. Meanwhile, Hong's secret organization, Cheollima Civil Defense (later renamed Free Joseon), began tracking the North Korean government's activities, and its volatile ruler, Kim Jong-un.
Free Joseon targeted North Korean diplomats who might be persuaded to defect, while drawing up plans for a government-in-exile. After the shocking broad-daylight assassination in 2017 of Kim Jong-nam, the dictator's older brother, Hong, along with US Marine veteran Christopher Ahn, helped ferry Jong-nam's family to safety. Then Hong took the group a step further. He initiated a series of high-stakes direct actions, culminating in an armed raid at the North Korean embassy in Madrid - an act that would put Ahn behind bars and turn Hong into one of the world's most unlikely global fugitives.
The Rebel and the Kingdom is an exhilarating account of how a trip down the safe and well-worn path of activism soon morphed into something extremely dangerous. Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Bradley Hope - who broke numerous details of Hong's operations in the Wall Street Journal -reveals his remarkable story of idealism and insanity, hubris and heroism, all set within the secret battle for the future of the world's most mysterious and unsettling nation.
Wall Street Journal reporter Hope (coauthor, Blood and Oil) delivers a riveting saga of one man's unlikely crusade to free North Korea. Adrian Hong, the son of South Korean missionaries, formed the activist group Liberation in North Korea while attending Yale University in 2004. Inspired by Kang Chol-hwan's book The Aquariums of Pyongyang and the documentary film Seoul Train, Hong arranged for three North Korean teenagers to leave China for the U.S. A subsequent attempt to help six more defectors failed, however, and Hong spent 10 days in a Chinese prison before returning to America. He founded a secret new group, now known as Free Joseon, dedicated to overthrowing dictator Kim Jong-un's regime. In February 2019, Hong and other group members broke into the North Korean embassy in Madrid and took the staff hostage for five hours before fleeing. They claim the break-in was a ruse staged to help the North Korean ambassador and his family defect, but the plan fell apart when the wife of an embassy official jumped from a second-floor window and alerted the police. Hong is currently in hiding, while one of his accomplices is in U.S. custody and fighting extradition to Spain. Hope has impressive access to Free Joseon and other activist groups and draws a vivid portrait of Hong, whose mix of courage, opportunism, and yearning fascinates. This is the stuff great political thrillers are made of.